UNIVERSITY HEALTH SYSTEM STEPS UP TO PROVIDE RELIEF TO HURRICANE HARVEY VICTIMS
The historic devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey to parts of Texas only reinforced our community’s reputation for generosity in times of need. That was also true of the staff and physicians of University Health System, who provided comfort and care to those left homeless by the storm’s winds and floodwaters, which struck Rockport and other coastal communities on Aug. 26, then circled back to hit the Houston area with devastating floods over the next two days.
As the realization of the storm’s potential destructiveness became apparent, University Health System began preparing for potential storm threats to our area. When the storm’s path veered east, mostly sparing San Antonio, attention turned to helping others.
Following massive evacuations of coastal communities, more than 60 staff members provided medical screening and care to more than 1,000 evacuees at area shelters. Nurses worked 12-hour shifts around the clock. Providers from University Medicine Associates and UT Health San Antonio joined them to provide daytime coverage.
These teams helped to monitor shelter guests with chronic medical conditions, refilled prescriptions for medications that ran out or were left behind, and provided care for acute illness and injury.
Two staff members were present at all times throughout the ordeal at the Southwest Regional Advisory Council’s Regional Medical Operations Center, which is activated during disasters to coordinate the distribution of patients to area hospitals. University Hospital accepted 20 patients from hospitals in Corpus Christi and Victoria. In addition, three babies were born at the hospital to mothers who sought refuge in local shelters.
Other staff members asked what they could do to help. In response, the University Health System Foundation established a Hurricane Harvey Fund. The “Compassion Rises with the Tide: UHS Lends a Hand” campaign collected donations from staff. Two thirds of those funds were dedicated the San Antonio Food Bank, the official coordinating agency in support of Hurricane Harvey relief work in our community. The rest went to the Animal Defense League of Texas to help care for animals displaced by the storm.
And when calls for blood came from areas hardest hit by Harvey, University Health System launched an appeal for blood to ensure local supplies would not be disrupted. The weeklong appeal, publicized by KSAT 12, ended with a blood drive in University Hospital’s lobby. In all, 271 donors stepped forward.